Thirfty and Tasteful travels…I’ve figured it out!

An IBIS Hotel
Avignon, France

I’ve marketed my Exploring Europe tours with the slogan “Thrifty and Tasteful Travel” for sometime.  But just last night it came to me what I really mean by it.  Tonight I am Avignon, a wonderful city with lots of history, culture, and style.  The only problem is that all the tour groups that go through southern France stop here, add their euros to the economy, and then move on to somewhere else.  I stopped by today to see if I could test my “Thrifty and Tasteful” concept.

Last night, in the remote village of Bonnieux, I was having a glass of wine at the bar down the street from my hotel.  As I was writing my “Blog” and updating my journal the “Thrifty and Tasteful” concept materialized before me.  So here it is….

In Bonnieux I spent 50 euro on a rather spartan, yet clean, room with a shower, sink, toilet, bed, and great view.  There were better rooms in the village and even at the hotel, but I was alone and trying to impress no one.  I figured the money saved on the room could be better spent on dinner.  I was out 50 euro for my room and now I went in search of a place for dinner.  I always checkout practically every place in town before deciding where to eat, and it was no different in Bonnieux.  Bonnieux did present a special problem in that the town was small and built on a mountain, so anywhere I wanted to walk was either uphill or downhill.  It never amazes me that where I want to go is always uphill! 

After scouting the town, dodging the thunderstorm (complete with pea-sized pellets of hail) I ended up right back at my hotel’s restaurant.  The owner, Pierre, had welcomed me to France (in English) when I checked in and now I asked him to tell me about dinner.  Pierre took me into the dining room and showed me the “panoranique” view, described the menu choice in English, and even showed me the kitchen!  Well I was hooked and made a reservation for 8:00.  (BTW, I make it a habit not to tell the hotel and restaurant owners who I am or what I do until after the service, and only then if I want to return).

So for dinner I spent 36 euro on a four course meal that was simply amazing.  The waitress suggested a bottle of local “Cote du Luberon” red wine which I took her up on.  I had Foie Gras with fresh grilled bread, salad, and confiture of prunes for the starter (if you don’t like duck’s liver you should try it at one of my recommended places in France).  I picked a regional speciality for the main course consisting of baby lamb shank roasted in its own fat and seasoned with juice, rosemary sprigs, and thyme.  The meat fell off the bone and the rosemary was presented in a way that I could cut off fresh sprigs and add to each bite to enhance the flavor to my liking.  By now I was completely satisfied and pleasantly full, but the goat’s cheese plate came and I had to have some of it.  The cheese was produced in Buoux, a village about ten miles away.  There was desert, but I’d had enough and skipped it.  The waitress said she’d add the check to my hotel bill and I could settle up in the morning.

Ahh…talk about “Tasteful Travels” I found it in Bonnieux.  So I guess I’ve discovered that I’m willing to stay in a two star hotel and dine like a king as opposed to staying in a four star hotel and trying to skimp on the food.  If I had all the money in the world it would be different, but it seems just right for my “Thrifty and Tasteful Tour” philosophy.

Meanwhile tonight I’m staying in a two star IBIS hotel.  These hotels are all over France and it’s kind of nice to “come home” to the same room no matter what city you’re in.   But I did not succeed in finding an excellent and affordable place to eat, but that’s a story for another night.

Bonne nuit,


About the Author
David McGuffin established David McGuffin's Exploring Europe, Inc. in 2001 to formally offer European tours. Since then, he has taken several thousand satisfied customers on memorable and educational tours to Europe.
  1. Holly Fitchette Reply

    Sounds great. Now I’m hungry! Have you taken the week off? Bonne nuit needs to have the spelling changed a bit. I would always err on the side of a good meal as well. When you get to sleep, you’re “out of it”, but when you dine you should be very present for an “out of this world” experience!

    Need help with any French groups? 🙂 How long will you be in France this summer. I may be able to get us some time at my friends’ home in the Ardeche. Can’t promise anything, but they won’t be traveling because she is dealing with breast cancer.

    Talk soon.

    Bon séjour (happy stay),

    Holly 🙂

  2. Gerrt Reply

    Sounds like you made another good find. I leave for Greese tomorrow and look forward to a great adventure.


  3. Janey Reply

    Are you just trying to torture all of us here working for a living while you are enjoying wonderful adventures and great food? Ooooo lalla!!! Have fun.

  4. Jim and Ann Reply

    Great write-up. Makes us envy your travels and remember our time when the three of us explored a bit of Wales. You have a real knack for finding the best places. – Ann
    Stop complaining about walking up hill and down hill – you live in Florida where you can stand on two phone books at your house and see Miami!!! A little hilly walking would probably be good for us Floridians.
    Then you have the nerve to mention “eating duck liver” – yuck! Orange Park is now hosting a LOT of Canadian geese and you have to watch where you walk… but stepping on goose poop seems better than eating duck liver! But, I was in Google Earth looking down on Cinque Terra (?) and it looked like an interesting place to visit – maybe one of these days – Jim

  5. W. John White Reply

    My favorite meal from our trip was when we just pulled over at some (unplanned) restaurant in farm country. It might not even have had a sign. I think it was in the Bordeaux region, on our way from San Sebastian (a really nice hotel (Hotel Mayoral, as I recall) overlooking the whole town and beach) to Dordongne (a more laid-back hotel (Hotel Bonnet), with before-dinner cocktails on the patio and one of those dinners with all the courses). For an extremely reasonable price, we got a lunch with all the courses. To top it all off, you negotiated a really sweet deal with the farmer (tee-shirt, jeans, boots) that ran the place for 2 milk crates full of wine to be used for our last night in Paris, saving a bundle!

    I think there’s really no need of a 5-star hotel. If the room is in a safe location and is adequate in which to freshen up and sleep comfortably, that’s all that’s needed.

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